ST. LOUIS COUNTY - The family of a University City teenager is offering a reward for information following a week of mourning.
Taylor Simpson, a junior at Lieberman Leaning Center was shot and killed Wednesday morning.
University City Police said they responded to the 8300 block of Braddock Drive at 10:35 a.m., where they found Simpson, 17, suffering from multiple gunshot wounds. He was rushed to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Two other victims suffered minor injuries. They told police two people started firing from a dark-colored sedan. The vehicle was last seen heading west on Kempland.
Saturday, the Simpson family offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest, prosecution and conviction of suspects involved in the case.
According to officials with the University City School District, Simpson had just left the Lieberman Learning Academy, an alternative high school, before the shooting because it was an early dismissal day.
University City police are investigating the incident that took place about a half mile west of Barbara C. Jordan Elementary School. Police said the shooting was not random. There was never any threat to students at the school and the shooting does not appear to be random, according to officials.
Simpson previously attended school at University City High School and Jackson Park Elementary School. He was also the grandson of former Superintendent D. Joylynn Pruitt who retired from the district in 2016, according to a release from University City Schools.
“Our hearts are broken,” said Superintendent Sharonica Hardin-Bartley. “This is a tragedy and our prayers are with Dr. Pruitt and all of Taylor’s family.”
Principal Chris Blumenhorst said the district and community were taking news of his death very hard. “Taylor always had a smile on his face. He was always well-mannered. He was a nice guy. He really was.”
Blumenhorst said he had known of Simpson for about eight years.
He said the teen enjoyed movies and like many teenagers, was always on the prowl for food.
“As skinny as he was, Taylor loved to eat. He’d always pester me for food,” Blumenhorst remembered.
Simpson transferred to Lieberman earlier this year from University City High School. According to the district, he had previously attended Brittany Woods Middle and Jackson Park Elementary.
Blumenhorst said Simpson struggled academically, but maintained support from family, including his grandmother, Dr. Joylynn Pruitt, the retired superintendent of University City Schools.
“Losing a student as an educator is the hardest thing about being an educator,” he said.
And while he and other may never know the reasons for Simpson’s killing, Blumenhorst said the district won’t lose sight of horning the teen’s memory.
“We’ll never lose sight of who this young man was who was taken from us,” he said.
“Our focus right now is on caring for our students and district staff while doing what we can to support Taylor’s family,” Hardin-Bartley said. “We ask that you keep them in your thoughts.”
District leaders are providing grief and crisis counselors. They’re also exploring options for how the community might be able to support the family during this difficult time.
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